E.L. Doctorow’s new novel Homer & Langley is making a lot of noise. Interest piqued, I promptly put it on my list after reading about it in a smattering of upstanding literary publications. I would love to reflect on all of Doctorow’s prior titles and intelligently discuss his style, but I am afraid it would all be a ruse. The truth is that I have never read this prolific PEN/Faulkner Award winning author, and though I should probably be embarrassed about this fact, at least give me credit for my honesty.
While I currently stand at number seven in the library queue for Homer & Langley, and figure on about two months before I have it in my hands, my anticipation builds as its title continues to cross my path. My latest H&L sighting is an article in The New Yorker by none other than Joyce Carol Oates; the maven of noir literature. This certainly can’t be a coincidence considering Ms. Oates is well acquainted with topics of seductive disgust.
Though Joyce Carol Oates has not yet covered the disquieting topic of the “recluse-hoarder”, she valiantly and professionally praises her peer on his fictional account of the true life story of the Collyer brothers. Her article Love and Squalor praises E.L. Doctorow calling him “…a writer of dazzling gifts and boundless imaginitive energy…” and continues by asserting that Doctorow “…has emerged as our great chronicler of American mythology.”
Rarely do I buy a book, more specifically, a new release hardcover. However, after Ms. Oates states that “Doctorow’s Langley is corrosively eloquent, a modern-day Diogenes, or a prophet out of the Hebrew Bible; his cynicism suggests the later, embittered years of America’s most popular and beloved writer, Mark Twain,” I’m not entirely sure I can hold out. Something that packs this much literary punch might just be worth the price.
-By Megan Shaffer